IRELAND INTERNATIONAL RICHARDT Strauss is back in Leinster’s match day squad having completed a remarkable recovery from the heart surgery he underwent as recently as October.
The 27-year-old was ruled out of action for ‘the rest of the season’ just three months ago, when the defect in his heart had been detected, but his diligence and determination to return to the field have resulted in a recovery that is nothing short of miraculous.
Leinster say the four-times capped hooker “has progressed excellently to the extent that the medical team has cleared him to play sooner than expected.” It is a timely boost for head coach Matt O’Connor, following up the earlier good news that Sean O’Brien has re-signed for the eastern province.
In other team news, Martin Moore is selected to start at tighthead prop, with Mike Ross dropping to the bench. On the other side of the front row, Cian Healy comes into the XV in place of Jack McGrath.
In the back row, Rhys Ruddock returns from a calf problem to replace Kevin McLaughlin, while Shane Jennings comes in at openside in place of Jordi Murphy.
There are no changes to the starting back-line after last weekend’s 29-22 victory over Castres in France. Leinster face the Ospreys in Pool 1 of the Heineken Cup tomorrow evening [KO. 8.00pm].
Leinster (v Ospreys): Rob Kearney, Dave Kearney, Brian O’Driscoll, Gordon D’Arcy, Luke Fitzgerald; Jimmy Gopperth, Eoin Reddan; Cian Healy, Sean Cronin, Martin Moore; Devin Toner, Mike McCarthy; Rhys Ruddock, Shane Jennings, Jamie Heaslip (captain).
Replacements: Richardt Strauss, Jack McGrath, Mike Ross, Leo Cullen, Jordi Murphy, Isaac Boss, Ian Madigan, Zane Kirchner.